Future Directions in the Study of Early-Life Stress and Physical and Emotional Health: Implications of the Neuroimmune Network Hypothesis

Camelia E. Hostinar*, Robin Nusslock, Greg Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Early-life stress is associated with increased vulnerability to physical and emotional health problems across the lifespan. The recently developed neuroimmune network hypothesis proposes that one of the underlying mechanisms for these associations is that early-life stress amplifies bidirectional crosstalk between the brain and the immune system, contributing to several mental and physical health conditions that have inflammatory underpinnings, such as depression and coronary heart disease. Neuroimmune crosstalk is thought to perpetuate inflammation and neural alterations linked to early-life stress exposure, and also foster behaviors that can further compromise health, such as smoking, drug abuse and consumption of high-fat diets. The goal of the present review is to briefly summarize the neuroimmune network hypothesis and use it as a starting point for generating new questions about the role of early-life stress in establishing a dysregulated relationship between neural and immune signaling, with consequences for lifespan physical and emotional health. Specifically, we aim to discuss implications and future directions for theory and empirical research on early-life stress, as well as for interventions that may improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents living in adverse conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-156
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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